VB Terms and Vocab

Common Volleyball terms

  • AAU – Amateur Athletic Union. This is an American organization that works to create uniformity and standards in all sports at the amateur level. It is supported by over 150,000 volunteers and over 700,000 participants.
  • ABVT – Australian Beach Volleyball Tour
  • Ace– A serve that lands in the opponent’s court without being touched, or is touched, but unable to be kept in play by one or more receiving team players. This action usually results in a freakish celebration by the serving team and the receiving team is surrounded by an abundance of shame.
  • AES – Advanced Event Systems. This is a resource for club sports that organizes information on tournaments, events, scores, schedules, and rankings. Their app is very useful for tracking your team because it can be updated live throughout tournaments for participants to keep track of their next games and scoring results for all the teams.
  • Angle – Angle refers to attacking the ball at an angle that goes across the net toward the far sideline. Hitters faced with a block usually have the choice to try to hit down the sideline or on an angle. This can also be called cross-court.
  • Antenna – The antennae are the skinny poles on each side of the net that rise up above the boundary line. This is to help signify if the ball is out of bounds as it’s crossing the net.
  • Approach – This is the term that describes the hitter’s step progression leading up to their attack. Players are taught to step left-right-left, and then swing their arms upward, jump with both feet and then strike with their hit.
  • Assist– Usually the second of a team’s three contacts, an assist is awarded for any set ball that results in a kill on the ensuing attack. This act is usually performed by the setter (See Setter) who has hands of butter.
  • Attack– Usually the third of a team’s three contacts, an attack is any attempt by the offense to score a point against the defense (this does not include free balls or over-passes).
  • Attack Line – The attack line is also called the 3-meter line or the 10-foot line. This line is 3 meters (or 10 feet) from the centerline and demarks the boundary of the front zone. Only players from the front row positions of the rotation may hit an offensive attack in the air, in this zone inside the attack line. Learn more about the attack line here.
  • AVA – Alaska Volleyball Association
  • AVC – Asian Volleyball Confederation
  • AVCA – American Volleyball Coaches Association
  • AVP – Association of Volleyball Professionals. This is the American professional beach volleyball league.
  • Back Set – This is a set that is made to a player behind the setter in the right, front position. The setter actually sets the ball behind herself. This is an advanced and challenging move because they are blind to the attacker during most of their approach. Learn all about back setting here.
  • Barrel Roll – This is a move usually following a dive that brings your momentum to the side. You roll on your side to be able to get back to your feet quickly and to get out of the way for your team to be able to play the ball.
  • Base – This is also called “base defense”. This is the positioning that your coach wants your team to have once the play has developed. Your rotation position is where you start the play, but once the ball has been sent to the other side, you can get to your base to be ready for the next play.
  • Block – This is a defensive move to stop an attack above the net. The defensive player jumps up, raising both open hands above the net and reaching out toward the ball, to try to contact it on the opponent’s side to keep it from crossing the net. This is a tracked statistic. Learn all about blocking here.
  • Blocking/Stack Blocking– A blocking strategy where the front row players start close to each other at the center of the net, leaving space for swing blocking out to the pins.
  • Bump – This is the underhand pass that is one of the most basic skills in volleyball. The player keeps their hands joined together and forms a platform with their arms that they use to “bump” the ball back up into the air. It is more commonly called a pass.
  • Bump Set – This is a set using your platform pass. This is often the best option for liberos if they have to set from the front zone.
  • Bracket – This is the structure used to line teams up in tournaments. Most volleyball tournaments use a double loss system, so your team is not eliminated until they have lost 2 games. If this is the case you will have a Championship Bracket and what is usually called a Contender’s Bracket. Larger tournaments may have more brackets as needed.
  • Call The Ball – This is a common expression in volleyball. It means that you are supposed to shout loudly something to indicate that you are going to play the ball so that your teammates know you have it. Typically players call, “MINE” or “GOT IT.”
  • Carry – This is a violation in the way that the ball is struck. You are allowed a “momentary” contact with the ball on any part of your body, not a catch and throw. If you use an open hand to contact the ball and your palm is facing upward, you may get called for a lift or carry.
  • Centerline – The line that divides the two halves of the court. This line runs under the net.
  • Collapse – The act of collapsing your body by bending your knees and folding your elbows to get under the ball and pop it up. This is instead of a dive, if you’re already where the ball is coming, you just need to get down under it.
  • Cross-court –  Cross-court refers to attacking the ball at an angle that goes across the net toward the far sideline. Hitters faced with a block usually have the choice to try to hit down the sideline or a cross-court. This can also be called hitting “angle”.
  • Cut/Cut shot– attack with an extreme angle (nearly parallel to the net).
  • CVC – Continental Volleyball Conference – an intercollegiate men’s volleyball conference associated with the NCAA’s Division III.
  • CVL – Chinese Volleyball League – also called the Chinese Volleyball Super League.
  • Deep – The back row area of the court is “deep.” To hit the ball deep is to send it to the back row.
  • Dig- A defensive contact following an opponent’s attack resulting in a playable ball. See Euphemisms for Digs below for synonyms and alternate verbiage.
  • Dive – This is the action of getting to the floor in an effort to play the ball. There are many different types of dives.
  • Dolphin Dive – A dive where your arms are landing on the ground first while your legs kick up. Your body should look like you’re going head over heels.
  • Double contact/Double – A fault in which a player contacts the ball with two body parts consecutively.
  • Double-elimination – This is a system that’s commonly used in volleyball tournaments. In a double-elimination tournament, your team must lose twice to be knocked out of the tournament. There will be a championship bracket and then the teams that lose are sent to a contender’s bracket.
  • Double Fault – This can be called by the referee when a player from each team causes a fault simultaneously. The result is a replay of the rally.
  • Down Ball – A down ball is when an attacker swings and makes an attack on the ball from a standing position instead of jumping. The player stays down and typically the blockers will stay down as well.
  • Down Ref – The down ref is the second referee. The 1st referee is up above in a chair or stand. The second referee is standing “down” on the court. Learn all about the referees in volleyball here.
  • D.S.– The abbreviation for “defensive specialist”, a position player similar to the libero who is skilled at back-row defense.
  • Dump– A surprise attack usually executed by a front-row setter to catch the defense off guard; many times executed with the left hand, sometimes with the right, aimed at the donut or area 4 on the court. It can also refer to the action a losing coach takes directly after the game.
  • End Line – This is the boundary line at the short ends of the court. The server stands just outside the end line to serve.
  • E – Errors – There are several different types of errors that are tracked in volleyball statistics. These include attack errors, block errors, dig errors, kill errors, service errors, and reception errors.
  • Five-One– Six-player offensive system where a single designated setter sets regardless of court position. He or she is responsible for the second touch on every reception of serve, and ideally every defensive play. Depending on the teams passing ability, setters in this format can often be seen running wildly across the court like a zebra on the Serengeti.
  • Floater – This is a type of overhand serve. With this serve, the goal is to have no spin on the ball and try to make it “float” in a way that makes it unpredictable and hard to judge for the defense. Learn all about the different serves in volleyball here.
  • Foot Fault – When the server steps on or over the line before finishing the contact with the ball.
  • Four-Step Approach– The sequence of steps a hitter takes to meet a ball. Consisting of four steps. For right-handed hitters, the sequence is: right, left, right, left. For Left-handed hitters: left, right, left, right. For dyslexic hitters: left, left, right, right.
  • Free ball– A ball that is passed over the net because an attack wasn’t possible. It can also refer to a ball left at the court by a visiting team.
  • Free ball kill– A celebratory term when an easy pass is sent over the net and scores a point. This event usually gives the hitter an opportunity to show that he is much better than reality.
  • Four-Two– Six-player offense where there are two designated setters and the front row setter sets.
  • Front Zone – This is the area of the court between the attack line and the centerline. The front zone is meant for attacking with the players in the front row rotation positions.
  • G – Game – In volleyball games are also called sets. Games go to 25 points unless it is for a tie-breaking game, then they go to 15. All games are played with a “win-by-2” rule, meaning you have to be leading by 2 points for the game to finish. A match against another team is played to either the best of 3 or best of 5 sets.
  • Goofy– When a player jumps with the wrong foot first (while attacking) (commonly known as goofy-footed). This happens predominantly while at tournaments in Orlando, Florida or Anaheim, California. Gawrsh.
  • Hit – The hit is usually the third contact for your team. The hitter tries to contact the ball as high as possible, jumping into the air when possible. Using an overhand swing, the hitter attacks or spikes the ball to try to end the rally with a point for their team. This term is interchangeable with “attack” or “spike.”
  • Hitter – This is a player that attacks the ball in an offensive way, usually on the third contact.
  • Hitter’s Box – This is a tool used during practice. There are different variations of a hitter’s box, but they create a platform for a hitter to stand on and be able to reach the top of the net or above without jumping over and over. This is very helpful for coaches and hitters when practicing hitting and digging drills.
  • Illegal Block– When a back-row player attempts to block an opponent’s offensive action by making contact with the ball above the plane of the net.
  • Inside – This is when the ball is close to the middle of the court.
  • Interference – This is a violation that occurs when a player reaches over the net and interferes with their opponent being able to make a play on the ball. The interfering player will cause their team to lose the rally.
  • Joust– when the ball is falling directly on top of the net, two opposing players jump and push against the ball, trying to push it onto the other’s side. The winning player will then position his arms much like a body-builder and screams or make grunt sounds as his testosterone level peaks. The losing jouster feels shame and gets serenaded by his teammates with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oItA2EW_uHM
  • JOV – Junior Olympic Volleyball. You can find the USA women’s JOV page here and the USA men’s JOV page here.
  • Jump Serve – When a player uses a jump during their serve. You may jump into the court as long as you jump from behind the end line and you hit the ball in the air before you land. The two most common jump serves are the jump topspin and the jump floater. Learn more about jump serving here.
  • Kill– successful, legal, point-scoring play. It can be from a spike attack, tip or dump. For more terms that mean kill, refer to Euphemisms for Kills section below.
  • Let– a serve in which the ball hits the net on the side of the court served on, but still makes it over the net and onto the opposing side’s floor, resulting in a point. This used to be a service error prior to 2001. Now it is an Ace. Also referred to as a pussy ace.
  • LH – Left Side Hitter – This is the hitter position that, in your base plan, will play on the left front of the court, or position 4. This is also called “outside hitter”.
  • Libero – This is a unique position on the team. This player is designated ahead of time in the line-up to be a purely defensive player. They will replace players along the back row at any point in the game. They have a whole list of unique rules with this position.
  • Lift – This is a violation that is called when a player misplays the ball. You can’t play the ball by lifting it up with an open palm. To avoid this you can hit with a closed fist or your forearms.
  • Line – Besides describing the lines on the court, the word line is used in expressing the area of the court along the line, especially in reference to the target when hitting. For example, “The coach told me when they double block me, to try to hit line.”
  • Line Judge – Line judges are part of the officiating crew during a volleyball game. They will be stationed at opposite corners of the court, or on all 4 corners if there are 4 line judges. At high school levels and below in school volleyball, they will be volunteers. During club tournaments, a team will be assigned to “work” the game which includes 2 line judges. Their responsibilities include calling the ball in or out, calling a server for stepping over the line, and calling the touch if a player made contact before the ball went out of bounds.
  • Line-up – Before the game begins, the coach is responsible for handing in a line-up which lists the starting players on their team in the order of the rotation that they will begin. The captain or the coach will hand the line-up to the down ref (the second referee) who verifies the correct players are on the court before the game begins.
  • Linesman – this is another name for the Line Judge.
  • Masturpepper– Refers to a player who is the odd man out and all of his teammates are paired for pepper activity and he has to pepper with himself.
  • Match – The match is the entire meeting between two teams, so the total competition of all the sets. Depending on the league or tournament rules, matches are usually played until a best-of-3 sets or a best-of-5 sets has been determined. In many tournaments, the round-robin play is shortened to 2 sets regardless of the outcome. In this case, the total number of sets won that the teams amass throughout that round are compiled to rank the teams.
  • Match Point – When a team just needs one more point to win the match.
  • MB – Middle Back – The position on the court that is the center of the back row. This is also called position #6. In your base plan, this is usually going to be played by a libero or defensive specialist.
  • MB – Middle Blocker – This is the position on the team that plays the middle front row. They are also referred to as the “middle hitter.” This is commonly played by the tallest players on the team. They should be heavily involved in the blocking defense, combining with the other hitters when possible.
  • MH – Middle Hitter – This position on the team, also known as the “middle blocker” usually occupies the middle of the front row.
  • Mis-hit– A hit in which a player swings but does not contact the ball as intended, giving it a different speed, direction, and spin than the player intended. This typically results in a “loser” chant from both opposing players and players on your own team.
  • Mintonette – This is actually the original name for volleyball when it was invented by William Morgan. The name comes from a playoff of the name of Badminton.
  • MP – Matches played – When listed in the box score, this simply tallies the number of matches a player has played in.
  • NCAA – National College Athletic Association – has two different sites – this is for the organization, and this site is for following teams and results.
  • NECVL – New England Collegiate Volleyball League
  • NFSHSA – National Federation of State High School Associations. This is the governing body over American High School Sports.
  • NVA – National Volleyball Association
  • Off – This describes when the ball is far away from the net. For example, “She set the ball off, and I had to play it safe and gave them a free ball.”
  • OH – Outside Hitter – This is the position on the team that typically plays the left front or position 4 on the court. It’s also known as the “left-side hitter.”
  • On-Two– When the player making the second contact on the ball decides to play the ball over the net instead of setting up his or her teammate. Most often used in court volleyball by the setter, it is often called a “setter dump” or a “turn and burn”, but on the beach it is colloquially referred to as an “on-two”. Also referred to as a “One-way Street”.
  • One-Two-Two Coverage : Attack coverage system where one player covers directly under the block, two players cover 1–3 meters away, and two players cover 4–5 meters away. Where the last player stands is anyone’s guess.
  • Opposite Hitter – This is the position on the team that typically plays opposite of the setter in the rotation. They play on the right side of the court and may be the backup setter on some teams because of their proximity to the setter target position. They are also referred to as the “right-side hitter”.
  • Outside – When the ball is sent out of bounds, it’s said to be “outside”. This can be intentional, when setting attackers, they may have an advantage by playing from an angle that starts outside the boundary of the court.
  • Overhand Serve – This is serving the ball to begin a rally, using an above the head toss and an overhead strike with one hand. Variations include the floater, the topspin and jump serve.
  • Overhand Dig – An overhand dig is used when defending an attack. It is using your hands to deflect the ball upward, contacting the ball above your shoulders. It may appear the player is volleying the ball, but the dig is much more of a push or deflection, less of a volley.
  • Over pass– A mistake when the passers in serve receive accidentally send the ball over after the first contact. It can also refer to what the player jumps off after making such a play.
  • Pancake– When a player digs the ball by extending his or her hand flat on the floor, palm facing down, letting the ball bounce off the back of the hand. Also known as a flapjack or friend of Mrs. Butterworth.
  • Pass – The first contact with the ball after it crosses the net. This is when the ball is sent to a specific target, usually the setter. This can be a platform pass using the underhand bump with both forearms or two open hands in a volley.
  • Penetrate – This is interchangeable with “Press”, a blocker reaches across the net and angles their hands towards the ball to make contact on the other side and force the ball to bounce down on the opposing side.
  • Pin – This is another name for the antennae that are a part of the net. On each side of the net, you should have an antenna that extends up toward the ceiling above the sideline, indicating the side boundary of the net. These are sometimes called pins.
  • Pepper- A drill in which players hit a ball back and forth in a pass, set, spike, pass, set, spike, etc. pattern, without a net.
  • Pepper Pal– the person a player selects to “pepper” with to warm-up or immediately preceding a set.
  • Pepper Loner– the odd person out when all pepper pals have been paired. This players usually peppers with a coach, the wall, or himself (see masturpepper).
  • Perimeter defense– A defensive formation of back row players where players set up along the edges of the court to dig. Middle back is deep in the center and right while left-back shift back and towards the sidelines. This formation leaves a hole in the center of the court for the opposing team to score in.
  • Pole – The actual post that holds up the net. In indoor volleyball this will be metal, in beach volleyball, it may be wooden.
  • Platform – Your platform is the surface that you create with your forearms for bumping a pass.
  • Pool Play – This is when teams are seeded and placed in a pool for a tournament. Every team plays the other members in their pool and then will be ranked according to their results for the next stage of the tournament.
  • Quick Set – This is a set that is purposely set very close to the top of the net. In an effort to be as aggressive as possible and throw off the timing of the defense, a team can mix these into their offense. This is an advanced move because the hitter and the setter have very little room for error because the ball will only be above the net for a split second.
  • Rally – Every time the ball is put into play it begins a rally. The rally goes until one team can’t keep the ball in flight, the ball is sent out of bounds, or the referee calls some other violation of the rules and awards a point.
  • Ready Position – This is a stance where the player is flexed and ready for action, yet comfortable.
  • Receive – This is when you are being served the ball by the other team. This is the same as “serve receive”.
  • Referee – Volleyball usually has two referees to officiate the game. The one on a stand or chair is called the 1st referee or the “up ref”. The second referee stands on the opposite side of the court, near the scorer’s table and is called the “down ref”. Learn about the referees in volleyball here.
  • Replacement – This is similar to substitution, but is used with the libero. The libero doesn’t check in with the officials, she simply replaces the other player during any stoppage of play.
  • RH – Right Side Hitter – This is the position on the team that typically plays the front right position or position #2 on the court. They may also be called the “opposite hitter” because in some offenses they are opposite the setter.
  • Roll Shot– An offensive play that is slightly similar to a hit/spike. Unlike a hit/spike, rolls shots are performed by making contact underneath the ball and moving your arm in an upwards motion rather than making contact on top of the ball and swinging your arm downwards in a fast motion. A roll shot is not a fast offensive hit aimed away from the net, nor a tip aimed near the net, but it is meant to go high enough to avoid a block, but not too far back. Roll shots are generally aimed around 10–15 feet away from the net or into deep corners. Can also refer to how a losing coach drinks his beverage post game.
  • Rotation –This word has several meanings within volleyball:1. The clockwise movement from one position to the next going around the court in the 6 different spots. Your team rotates one position each time it regains the possession of the serve.2. The game plan your coach implements as far as positions (roles) played on your team and the positioning (spacing) on during the play.
  • Rotation Defense– A defensive formation of back row players where players “rotate” to cover a deep line shot. This formation closes the hole in the center of the court, but leaves space over the block in middle back for opposing attackers.
  • Rotational Home – This is the rotational position that you are in when the play is stopped. These are the positions 1 through 6 that you rotate clockwise through each time your team wins the possession of the serve.
  • Round Robin – This is when all the teams in a given field, play each other team. Usually, your team will be placed in a pool of 3 or 4 during a tournament and play each other before the next stage of the tournament. In many leagues, the league’s season is actually simply a single round-robin format.
  • RS – Right Side Hitter – This is a variation of RH listed above.
  • Save – This is when a player makes a play to keep the ball alive or bring it back into play.
  • Seam– When serving, the area between passers on serve receive; when attacking, the area between blockers or back row defenders.
  • Set– The setter, located in the center or right front, hits the ball high above the net so that an attacker can spike it across. The setter always takes the second hit, if possible.
  • Screening – A violation where a player or players on a team try to block the view of the server or the ball during the serve so that the opposition can’t see.
  • Seeding – This is ranking the teams in a given field based on past results. This can be used to rank teams at the beginning of a tournament or using the results of the beginning of the tournament, a re-seeding can be done before the second stage of the tournament.
  • Serve – The serve is the first contact that begins a rally by sending the ball from behind the end line on one side of the court, over the net and in-bounds on the other side of the court.
  • Server – The player who serves the ball to begin the rally.
  • Serve Receive – This is the formation a team uses when they are receiving the ball being served by the other team. During this part of the game, players must be in their rotational home until the server has made contact with the ball. Players and coaches may adjust their positioning on the court based on very specific rules of the game.
  • Service Aces – Same as “Aces” listed above, listed this way to keep statistics in a game. An ace is an in-bound serve that isn’t successfully returned. It may hit the floor or the opposition may attempt to play it, but it is only touched once and the result of that contact is unplayable. So if the opponent tries to play the ball and hits it so badly it’s out of play, that’s also counted as an ace.
  • Set – This is the second contact with the ball on your team’s side of the net. This is when the ball is delivered to an attacker so that it can be struck in an offensive way. The most common way is through a traditional volley. Variations include the bump set, quick set, and backset. If you would like to learn to set, begin here
  • S – Setter – This is the position on the team where the player specializes in the second contact with the ball. Their job is to set the attacks up for their team, feeding the ball to their attackers to kill. If you’re new to setting, this is an article for beginners.
  • Shank– When a player unintentionally passes a ball in a wild manner, rendering it unplayable to his or her teammates. Also refers to the device used on a opponent in the parking lot after losing a match.
  • Short – This is the opposite of “deep” and refers to the ball being close to the net. If a ball is served between the net and a front-row player, that would be short.
  • Shot– An offensive play in which a set ball, rather than being spiked hard, is directed to an open area of the court. If it succeeds, it also refers to what the winning takes after returning to the bench.
  • Sideline – The outer boundaries of the court that are the long sides of the rectangle.
  • Side out– When the team that served the ball loses the rally, causing the other team to serve the next point.
  • Single Elimination – A tournament format where after each match, whichever team loses is eliminated from the competition.
  • Six-Two : Six player offense where there are two designated setters and the back row setter sets. Called six-two because there are two setters and six other players (two outsides, two middle hitters, and two right-side hitters). At the high school level, this usually represents the tallest player on the team.
  • Six-back : Defensive system where the player in “six” (the middle position in the back-court) plays deep in the court covering attacks through the seam in the block, attacks over top of the block, and attacks that go high off the block. With certain blocking schemes, the player in “six” might also be responsible for deep line roll shots.
  • Six-up : Defensive system where the player in “six” (the middle position in the back-court) plays up behind the block with the responsibility of defending against a tip attack. Not be confused with seven-up a lemon lime flavored soda consumed after games.
  • Six-zero : Six player offense where there are no designated positions. Instead, the designated setter is just the player in position 3 (or sometimes 2).
  • Spike (a/k/a Hit)- When an offensive player attacks the ball with a one-arm motion done over the head, attempting to get a kill.
  • Spatch– When a player contacts the ball incorrectly during a hit causing the ball to propel unlike how the hitter intended. Reference used in a sentence: The Outside lunged at the ball but only got a spatch-ass hit that went out.
  • Sprawl – The action of getting on the floor in an attempt to play or save the ball. This is interchangeable with the term “dive”.
  • Spread Block– A blocking strategy where front row players set up “spread” across the net, both the right-side and the outside start near the pins.
  • Strong side– The left side of the court, so called because it is usually the easier side for right-handed players to attack from. Also referred to as the “on-hand” side.
  • Stuff Block – This is when a defender successfully denies the opposition’s attack and keeps the ball on their side of the net, making it fall to the ground for a point.
  • Substitution – This is when a player switches off of the bench, onto the court for another player, taking their position. Both players approach the sideline in the substitution zone (between the net and the attack line), one on each side of the line, and wait to be recognized by the second referee. The bookkeeper will record all substitutions. There is a maximum of 15 substitutions per game. Learn all about volleyball substitutions in this article.
  • Target – In volleyball, a target is a place the passer or setter is imagining that they intend to send the ball. So the passer is attempting to send their pass to the setter and the specific area on the court where the setter is supposed to be is their target. When the setter chooses a hitter to set, they must envision a target in the air that would be the ideal location for the hitter to strike the ball and then deliver the ball to that space.
  • Ten-Foot Line – This the line that’s 10 feet from the center of the court, running parallel to the centerline. It is also called the attack line or the 3-meter line. Learn more about the ten-foot line here.
  • “The Gap”– A spike between area two and area three that the middle hits. It’s always the same distance from the setter no matter where the setter is positioned on the set. It’s also where many public high school players buy their school garments.
  • The “W”– A common serve receive formation at lower levels where 5 players prepare to pass with 1 designated setter. So named because from above, the 5 passers are assembled on the five points of a “W”. Alternatively, possibly a Serve Screening formation by the serving team, also named for resembling a W. Also refers to what you get when you win the match.
  • Three across– A common passing formation in higher level play where three passers start in a line across the back row to receive a serve.
  • Three Step Approach– The sequence of steps a hitter takes to meet a ball. Consisting of three steps. For right-handed hitters the sequence is: right, left, right. For Left-handed hitters: left, right, left. For Democrats: left, left, left. For Republicans: right, right, right.
  • Tight – When the ball is close (usually to the net). For example, “She set the ball too tight, I couldn’t get past the block.”
  • Timeout – The referee, the coach, or the captain of the team may call a timeout. This is a stoppage of play. It is often used for the team to regroup, rest, and strategize. Other times it is for the officials to make sure everything is correct with the game or to attend to an injury.
  • Tip – A tip is an offensive move, using one open hand to guide the ball to a location on the opponent’s side of the court. This is instead of driving the ball with a hit, the tip uses the fingertips and is a controlled, softer contact.
  • Top Spin – This spin is created both in serving and spiking. When hitting the ball the hand should contact the ball behind, but then snap the wrist over top of the ball, creating a forward spin. This helps the ball to curve downward so that it doesn’t just keep flying out of bounds,
  • Top Spin Serve – This is the most common overhand serve. The player strikes the ball and snaps their wrist over the top of the ball to create the spin to hopefully create a lot of speed and yet keep the ball in bounds. To learn about all kinds of serves, visit this article.
  • Toss – This is the action of sending the ball into the air before serving. You are allowed to toss with either hand or both hands.
  • Transition – The switch from defense to offense. In volleyball, this happens quickly and frequently. As soon as the ball is received on your side of the net, if you are not the person playing that first contact, you should transition to your offensive positioning and posture.
  • Triple Block – This is when 3 players on one team work together on defense to form a combined block to stop their opponent’s attack.
  • Triple Double – When a player has earned double digits in 3 different positive stats categories.
  • Two-Three Coverage– Attack coverage system where two players cover 1–2 meters away from the block, and three players cover 2–4 meters away.
  • Under Hand Serve – This serve is usually used by beginners until they can master the overhand. The player uses one hand to hold the ball down about waist level and uses the other to strike the ball in an uppercut motion. Players may use a closed fist or the heel of their hand. For details on the underhand serve see this article.
  • USAV – United States of America Volleyball – This is the organization that leads the national volleyball teams for the USA.
  • UVC – United Volleyball Conference – a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III men’s volleyball conference located in the northeastern United States.
  • VPI – Volleyball Performance Index. This is a research-based scoring system used to evaluate players being considered for college. Statistically, players with a higher VPI score have consistently had better success at the college level.
  • Whiff– When a hitter swings for the ball and slightly grazes it with his middle finger and ring finger. Also refers to the unpleasant smell that arises from keeping your used volleyball uniforms and equipment in a sealed duffel bag.
  • WPVA – Women’s Pro Beach Volleyball Association
  • Weak Side– The right side of the court, so called because it is generally easier for right-handed players to attack from the left (“strong”) side. Also known as the “off-hand” side.

Types of sets

There is no absolute standard for naming sets, so there can be several different names for any one type of set.

  • A– A back row set aimed at the left side quarter of the court [A|B||C|D]. Also could be a quick set to the middle.
  • B– A back row set aimed to the left side middle quarter of the court [A|B||C|D].
  • Back-Two– A ball set relatively high and to the middle or to the right side hitter, directly behind the setter.
  • Back-One– A ball set relatively low (or quick) to the middle hitter or to the right side hitter, directly behind the setter.
  • Bick– Similar to the “Pipe”, but set very low (the name comes from Back quick)
  • C– A back row set aimed to the right side middle quarter of the court [A|B||C|D].
  • Chaos– An outside in which the middle runs a one, the outside comes for a two off the middle’s shoulder, and the weak side runs around the back to hit an outside 3.
  • D– A back row set aimed at the right side quarter of the court [A|B||C|D].
  • Five– Same as a four set, but to the weak side/opposite hitter. Also, a middle set higher than a two.
  • Four/Back– A high set to the strong side/outside hitter.
  • Go– A set to the outside hitter, higher than a shoot but lower and faster than a hut.
  • Hut/Loop– A lower set to the outsider hitter. Higher than a shoot.
  • Jones– A variation of “Chaos” where the middle runs a one, the outside comes for a “back 2,” and the weakside comes around to hit an “outside 3.” The setter may choose to set the ball to any of the three hitting options. This play is designed so that the setter is able to accommodate the set according to where the block is positioned.
  • One/Quick/Fifty-One– A type of middle hit when the middle jumps before the setter sets, with the ball being set directly to the middle hitter’s hand.
  • Pipe– A back row set aimed at the middle of the court between a B and a C-ball [A|B|^|C|D].
  • Shocker– An attack in which the middle runs a one, the opposite comes for a two off the middle’s shoulder, and the outside runs/slides around to hit a back-two.
  • Shoot– A variation on the quick set except instead of setting the ball to the middle the ball is set to the outside hitter.
  • Step/Slide– An attack where the hitter fakes a quick-set (one) approach with his/her first step and subsequently chases the ball behind the setter and parallel to the net, jumps off one foot and hits the ball close to the antenna on the weak-side.
  • Ten– A ball set for a back row attack.
  • Three/Thirty-Three– A quick lower set to the outside.
  • Thirty-Two– An attack where the hitter fakes a quick-set (one) approach with his/her first step and subsequently chases the ball in front of the setter and parallel to the net, jumps off one foot and hits the ball in the outside 3 position. Generally used as adapted version of the Slide for left-handed hitters.
  • Tool– An offensive attack when a hitter hits off the blocker’s hands and the ball goes down on the opposing team’s side to earn a point. Also refers to an opposing coach or player who constantly complains about the refs.
  • Two– A ball set to the middle hitter at approximately two feet above the top of the net. Also, a “back two” is the same set, set behind the setter.
  • Cross (X)– A play in which the middle hitter jumps for a one, and the weak-side hitter, having moved to the middle of the court, takes an approach for a two at the same location.
  • Thirty-One/Inside Shoot : A play in which the middle hitter runs a one ball about half way in between the middle and outside.
  • Stack/Tandem : Similar to the “cross” but the outside hitter hits the two ball.
  • Thirty Stack– A play in which the middle hitter runs a thirty-one and the outside hitter runs a thirty-two.
  • Shaft– A deep pipe set, generally set high.
  • Middle-finger Ball– When the libero takes an approach and jumps as if to hit a one ball, making as much noise as possible to distract the other team. This will hopefully cause blockers to jump with the libero, despite there being no threat of attack. Usually used by a team winning by a significant margin. Also refers to what many high school boys scratch during games.

While there is no absolute standard, the most common set naming system is a two number system where the first number corresponds to a zone on the net, and the second number corresponds to the height of the set at its apex above the top of the net in feet. Zones are named 1 through 9 from left to right along the net with the setter occupying Zone 6; and the most common set heights are 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 (represented by a 0 in the notation). For example, a 10 set is a high ball to the left side, a 53 is a 3 foot high set to the middle of the court (in front of the setter), and a 61 is a 1 foot high set right behind the setter.

Methods of contacting the ball

  • Beach dig– A dig made using both hands and fingers to surround the ball, squeeze and actually slightly lift the ball. Allowed when defending against a hard hit on the beach.
  • Bump– Similar in motion to a pass, but used to set a ball for an attack.
  • Chicken wing– When a defending player is forced to react very quickly to a ball coming at their upper torso, the player may lift a bent arm in the shape of a chicken wing to dig the ball.
  • Chop Shot– A type of attack usually executed on the beach, instead of contacting behind the ball the player turns their hand sideways and chops the side of the ball, creating side spin and a sharp sideways trajectory along the net. Most easily done with the right hand on the right side, and the left hand on the left side.
  • Cobra– With the fingers extended straight and stiff, the ball is poked with the fingertips.
  • Crepe– When a player digs the ball by extending his or her foot flat on the floor, letting the ball bounce off the top of the foot. (Also called a waffle)
  • Dinosaur-Dig– When one attempts to block a ball but it falls down between them and the net, so they bring their arms down in front of them like a T-Rex and play the ball up with the backs of their wrists.
  • Dump– When on second contact the ball is purposely returned over the net instead of set to a hitter, which may result in a kill when the defense in unaware. Usually enacted by the setter.
  • Flipper– A reaching contact made with the outstretched back of the hand in a flipping motion. Popularized by beach player Andy Fishburn.
  • Floater/Float– A non-spinning serve characterized by unpredictable, erratic movement during flight caused by airflow interacting with the seams of the ball. Similar to a knuckleball in baseball.
  • Gator– A defensive digging technique used on the beach in the defense of a hard hit ball. The hands are formed into the shape of 2 gator jaws. The maneuver involves digging the ball with the bottom hand and then directing it with the upper hand.
  • J-Stroke– an emergency play made either running or diving, often with one hand, where a player has to reach well in front of him- or herself to contact the ball and follow through in a ‘J’ motion in order to send the ball back over their head.
  • Jay-pass– a forearm or overhead pass that places the setter in a position to only be able to set the passer who initiated the pass. Generally passed low to the ground and immediately in front of the passer.
  • Jump float– A float serve with a small hop/jump.
  • Jump serve/Jump top-spin– a serve made famous by Karch Kiraly the server tosses the ball high into the air about 3~5 feet away from himself, flicking the wrist making top spin on the ball then taking a spike approach and contacting the ball while in mid air snapping the wrist to cause great forward spin to allow the ball to suddenly drop when the opponent is going to pass the ball.
  • Kong– A one-handed block, usually because the blocker is late. Initially popularized by Randy Stoklos.
  • Pancake– When a player digs the ball by extending his or her hand flat on the floor, palm facing down, letting the ball bounce off the back of the hand.
  • Pokey– A ball contacted with the knuckles especially on the beach.
  • Roll Shot– An attacker hits the set softly putting extreme topspin on the ball so that it will clear the block and drop quickly and directly over the block.
  • Sprawl– A type of dig in which the player does not dive forward, but rather places his hands on the ground and pushes his body forward and down. Similar to diving for a ball, but not actually leaving the ground.
  • Sky ball– An underhand serve in which the ball is shot unusually high into the air above the opposing team’s court in the attempt to confuse the receiver.
  • Tomahawk– A defensive shot in beach volleyball made by putting the hands together and making contact with the volleyball overhead.[2]
  • Thunder– A spike or attack that requires a lot of force from the arm, and a very high jump. The ball is hit steeply downwards from the point of contact, and is very difficult to receive.
  • Tip– A softer or off-speed finesse attack, usually committed with more of the fingers and fingertips than the whole hand as used in an attack.
  • Wipe/Swipe-When one player pushes the ball against the opponents block and physically wipes the ball out of bounds. Similar to a tool.
  • Steino– A 3 Knuckle pokey shot in beach Volleyball made famous by AVP Pro and USA Olympian Stein Metzger. In volleyball a way that you can get a point by using these methods is to place the ball where it is very hard for the other players to get to or to where they are unable to get to the ball.

Slang terms

  • Bang/Boom/Bounce/Thump– A ball spiked very hard with a steep downward angle.
  • Beer– When an attacked ball goes through a defenders legs. After being “beered” the defender then owes the attacker a beer.
  • Blash– When a ball is blocked and the ball travels faster from the blocker to the floor than the attacker to the block. Made famous by Cameron Billingham, the term comes from a combination of the words “block” and “smash”.
  • Block City– A fictional place that players claim to go when they are blocking very well. Also known as “Turkey Town”. (See “Stuff Turkey”).
  • Butter/Nectar/Sauce/Smoothie/Cheddar Biscuits– A perfect set.
  • Chowder/Chum – A badly mangled set.
  • Chick Impressor– When an aggressive kill setup by an over passed ball impresses physically attractive bystanders.
  • Chicken Presser– See Chick Impressor.
  • Crab Defense– When a player is serving, the opposing three passers shuffle side to side and pinch their hands like crabs to distract the server.
  • Deep Dish/Chicago style pizza/Evan set– An illegal set that is held excessively long, typically set from below the shoulders and seen in beach volleyball.
  • Dancing Ref– When a referee dances seductively atop the ref stand during a timeout. Hard to watch, but both alluring and hypnotic at the same time. Also known as ‘a Grimsey’.
  • DimeRock- A perfect pass.
  • Dirt Dessert– When a player gets a kill so sweet, it’s almost comparable to the utter sweetness of a classic Dirt Dessert.
  • Double-double– When a player accumulates double-digit amounts in two of five statistical categories—aces, kills, blocks, digs, and assists—during one match.
  • Easy– What a defending player should yell at the top of their lungs when successfully digging a very hard hit attack or perfectly passing a hard serve, as if to say that the attacking/serving player is easy.
  • Facial/Six-Pack/Tatto/Dome/Nutsicle– When a defending player gets hit in the face with the ball either from an attack by the opposing team or by a deflection off the block. The term “six-pack” refers to the dizzying sensation of being hit directly in the head or face by a volleyball as being analogous to the dizzying sensation of having drunk a six-pack of beer. The abdominal muscles are sometimes referred to as a “six-pack,” so getting hit in the stomach by the ball is getting ‘six-packed.’ The term “tattoo” refers to marks left on the skin of the hit player by the seams/lettering on the ball. Any player hit in the genitalia is referred to a nutsicle.
  • Fish – A player who gets caught in the net.
  • Fishing– Making illegal contact with the net.
  • Hands– Hand setting. Someone with “nice hands” sets well.
  • Heat– Speed. Used to describe a hard-hit ball.
  • Hops/Bunnies/Springs/Leaper– A term used to label a player who has an immense vertical leap.
  • House/Stuff/Roof– When the defensive player blocks a ball so hard that it is immediately returned to the hitter and goes straight to the floor. See block euphemisms below.
  • Hubby-wife/Campfire– In beach volleyball, when a serve drops between two players because the players don’t decide in time who will pass it.
  • Jet Nai Heed– The act of intentionally blocking a spike from the opposing team.
  • Jungleball/Barbecue ball/Picnic ball : A volleyball game played by inexperienced players with little ball control.
  • Killing Ants– when a player digging a hit passes the ball directly into the ground
  • Killshot– on a serve or a swing when the ball hits the passers neck or chest region, in between digging and getting facialed.
  • Kong – A huge one-handed block.
  • Lombardo– A beach volley player who demonstrates a gross lack of skill, knowledge, or style. “That lombardo has been throwing party balls all day!”.
  • Nail– A perfect pass.
  • NJPowerRanking– the preeminent volleyball website in NJ and the world.
  • No-lookie Cookie– When a hitter appears going cross then drills it down line without turning their head to look.
  • O.T.-When an attacker hits the ball over top of the blocker and it lands in front of the defense.
  • Overkill– When an overpass (or a free ball) occurs and the opposing team attacks the ball for a kill.
  • Paintbrush/Whiff– A mishit — when a player attempts to hit (or spike) the ball with the open hand and nearly misses the ball, only contacting the ball with his/her fingers resulting in a backspin on the ball.
  • Pancake– A fully extended dig by a defender where the ball hits the top of the players hand instead of hitting the floor.
  • Pancake Nirvana– An imaginary place a player (normally libero) goes when they repeatedly pancake a tipped ball or ball headed for the ground.
  • Party Ball– Opportunity for a front row player to return an overpassed ball with a hit.
  • Party Foul– A failed attempt at a Party Ball
  • Phone Booth– When a blocker’s hands seal off every possible attack angle on a set ball. Often referred to as, “It’s like trying to hit out of a phone booth.”
  • Pineapple– An attack on the second contact by the setter of a team, usually with the right hand designed to land in the deep corner of the court. Often done without looking at the target for deception. Made famous by USA setter Lloy Ball when playing in college.
  • Poke – A ball contacted with the knuckles.
  • Popcorn setting/Sprinkler– When an unskilled setter is sending sets in a random pattern (like popcorn being popped, or like a water sprinkler on the grass).
  • Predictor- the proprietary system used by njpoweranking.com to choose the winner of high school volleyball matches in New Jersey.
  • Quadruple-double– When a player amasses a double-digit total in four of five statistical categories—aces, kills, blocks, digs, and assists—during a match.
  • Quintuple-double– When a player accomplishes ten or more aces, kills, blocks, digs, and assists during a match.
  • Rainbow– A shot especially on the beach that is hit over the head of the defender to the far corner and lands cleanly. Also known as a Jumbo Shrimp (due to the arc/shape of the shot).
  • Ref– A variation of “Refs”, but one that is socially accepted by the players.
  • Refs– Collective noun for those officiating at a volleyball event – including referees and lines people. Often mocked for wearing predominantly white shoes on a beach volleyball event (shooby).
  • Rufio– A cheer done in volleyball, famous from the movie Hook, where a player blocks the opposing player straight down on the opposing players’ side. Players scream, Rufio, Rufio, Ru-fi-OOOOOO!!!
  • A Scotford– To celebrate heartily after officiating at an event, sometimes by wearing the headwear of many nations.
  • Scrappy– Referring to a team that doesn’t let a single ball hit the ground without much effort. (used positively)
  • Shag– Picking up and collecting scattered volleyballs.
  • Skunk/Skunk rule– A win that occurs when a team scores 7 points while the opposition has not scored. Similar to the mercy rule.
  • Spalding– when the hitters hit the ball and it hits the opposing defensive team in the face or on their body. Spalding refers to the letters of the ball staying on the players face because it hit them so hard.
  • Spatch/Waffle- When a player attacking the ball contacts it with essentially no spin, causing a lateral movement pattern similar to that of a float serve, typically resulting in the ball flying out of bounds
  • Spiketown/Bouncetown/Poundtown– A fictional place that a hitter claims to go to when he/she gets an impressive kill that bounces very high and no one can return (a lot of times near the 3 meter line.)
  • Stuff Turkey– A stuff block in which the ball hits the opponents’ floor before the blocker does; When such an event occurs, a player is said to have had his turkey stuffed.
  • Sui-set– A ball set too close to the net directly in to the hands of a waiting blocker; The attacker will get blocked most of the time.
  • Tool/Use : An attack which is deflected off an opponent (usually during a block) and is unplayable resulting in a point for the attacking team (also called a bounce off).
  • Tool Time– A phrase used to celebrate the occurrence of a tool-style attack or when a player manages to successfully tool the opponent multiple times in rapid succession.
  • Tough Bacon– Any ball that is played in a way that makes it difficult for the next player to successfully play the ball. For instance, after a bad set the intended hitter might remark “that was tough bacon”. Similarly, a setter might remark as such after a bad pass, or a passer might remark as such after a difficult serve.
  • Trap– A ball set too close to the net where the hitter typically gets stuffed.
  • Triple-double– When a player, during a single match, scores at least ten times in three of five statistical categories: Aces, kills, blocks, digs, and assists.
  • Vegas Line– A kill resulting from a powerful hard-line spike that penetrates or beats the opponents’ line block. Also refers to the betting odds on a match.
  • Waffle– See spatch/waffle above. Also used to describe a pancake (see above) but done with a foot instead of a hand.
  • Waterfall Ball– When a players hit goes inside the block of the opposing team and falls down on their side much like a waterfall.
  • Yummy– When a player gets a kill out of an overpass from the opposing team.

Statistics

  • A – Assist – An assist is a statistic that is tracked in volleyball. It occurs whenever a player passes, digs, or sets the ball to a teammate which is followed by a kill by that teammate.
  • Assist Attempts – This would be the total of all assists, assist errors and assist zeros.
  • Assist Errors – This is a set that ends in a loss of point due to a ball-handling error.
  • Assist Percentage – This can be calculated by subtracting the assist errors from the assists and then dividing by the total assist attempts. So Assists – Assist Errors / Assist Attempts = Assist Percentage.
  • Assist Zero – This is an assist that results in a zero attack (see “0” attack at the bottom of the list) or in an attack error.
  • BE – Blocking Error – A blocking error is assigned to a player whenever they are called for a violation while trying to execute a block. This can be for a net violation, reaching across and interfering with the opponent being able to make a play on the ball, lifting or carrying the ball, or crossing the centerline. This is NOT awarded for simply failing to stop the attack.
  • BHE – Ball Handling Error – There are many errors and this is the category that catches the errors that don’t fit into the other categories. If you are called for a ball-handling violation (double hit, lift, carry, or thrown ball) and it was NOT during receiving the serve, a kill or a block, then it’s a BHE.
  • Box Score – In volleyball, the box score is a format that is used to summarize all the main statistical information that happened in a game. It’s more than just the points for each team in each set. The players’ names are listed down the left-hand column of the box and then there are columns that list attacking stats, setting stats, serving stats, and defensive stats. It’s an effective way to communicate the overall results of both teams in a very compact way.
  • BS – Solo Block – A block by a single player. It’s listed this way in the statistics because the idea is BS = Blocks (Solo).
  • DE – Dig Error – A dig error is assigned to a player that should have gotten a dig, but didn’t OR a player who made a dig that was unplayable because it was out of control.
  • DG – Dig – This statistic is credited to the defensive player who makes a playable pass after the opposition executes a hard-driven attack on the ball. Learn all about digs here.
  • DB – Double Block – This is a defensive move where two players work together and combine to form a larger block to try to stop the opponent’s attack.
  • HE – Hitting Error – this is the same as “Attack Error”, when the hitter makes an error that automatically loses the rally, hitting into the net or out of bounds.
  • Hitting percentage– Is defined as the number of kills minus the number of errors, divided by the total attacks.
  • K – Kill – This is a statistic that is credited to an attacker when they hit the ball and it results in an immediate point. This is either when the ball hits the floor in bounds or the player who tries to dig it can’t control it and their pass is unplayable.
  • KE – Kill Error – When a kill is attempted, there are only 3 possible outcomes. First, there can be a successful kill. Second, there’s what’s called a zero attack – the attack was made, but the defense dug the ball and kept the play going. All other results are considered a kill error. So whether you hit the ball into the net, out of bounds, or some other bad result, it’s considered a kill error.
  • Kill percentage– Is defined as the number of kills divided by the total attacks.
  • KPG – Kills Per Game – This is simply a statistic that tracks how many kills a player gets in an average game. To calculate this you just take their total kills and divide it by the number of games they’ve played.
  • K/S – Kills Per Set – This is the same as KPG, how many kills does the player get per set?
  • PCT – This stands for percent, and in volleyball, it reflects the hitting percentage. This statistic is a column in the box score sheet. The attack percentage is calculated by taking your kills, subtracting your errors, then dividing that number by your total attempts. So (K-E)/TA=PCT. Learn more about what a good hitting percentage is here.
  • Point scoring percentage (PS%)- The number of times the serving players team scores while that player is serving divided by the number of total serves
  • Rotation points– Is defined as the total points a team scored on a specific player’s serve.

Euphemisms for “Kills”

  • A Spike
  • Punching out the libero
  • Burying the biscuit
  • Slamming the sphere
  • A Rest In Peace 
  • Sending it to the Cemetery
  • Blasting the balloon 
  • Knifing the Nut Butter
  • Stroking the Huevos
  • Sending one to China (US only)
  • Driving one to the morgue
  • A “Captain Insano”
  • Bringing the artillery
  • Loading up the Bazooka
  • A Power Bomb
  • Going straight down
  • Lowering the Elevator
  • Sending one to the basement 
  • A Widow Maker
  • A Zinger
  • Drilling the hole
  • A monster slam
  • Smashing the Pumpkin
  • Chopping the Onion
  • Spanking the Globe
  • A shockwave
  • A Thunder Monkey
  • Punching out the waiter
  • Sending in the Swat team
  • Attacking the ground hogs
  • Firing up the gunpowder
  • Loading up the Cannon
  • A Rocket Launch
  • Dropping a Grenade
  • Shooting a Napalm Rocket
  • Exploding the missile
  • Loading up the ammunition base
  • Binking the Marble
  • A Bomb

Euphemisms for “Blocks”

  • Shutting down the artillery
  • A No-No
  • Saying “Not today”
  • Creating the wall
  • Putting up the stockade
  • Impeding the flow
  • Plugging the dam
  • Providing the barricade
  • Firing up the retaining wall
  • Stopping the kill monkey
  • Curbing the enthusiasm
  •  

Euphemisms for “Digs”

  • Lip
  • Saving the day
  • Pumping up the hot air balloon
  • Diverting the spike
  • Undercutting the sales price
  • Getting beneath the thunder
  • Using the shovel

Euphemisms for “Sets”

  • Butter
  • Nectar
  • Sauce
  • Cheddar Biscuits
  • Plugra
  • Ambrosia
  • Smoothie

Euphemisms for “Passes”

  • Dime
  • Bump
  • Give
  • Send
  • Deliver
  • Jay-pass
  • Rock
  • Nail
  • Shank
error

Enjoy this website? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email
Instagram
www.njpowerranking.com
%d bloggers like this: